Monday Memories: Anesthesia

When I was six, I broke my arm.  I fancied myself some kind of gymnast or circus performer and was walking along the back and arm of our family room sofa.  It was a great height and width to be a balance beam.  Except I lost my balance, and fall on a child-sized rocking chair.

I was wearing a Minnie Mouse nightgown which I loved because she was holding a big rose.  Later at the hospital, they cut me out of it along the side seam so that it could be re-sewn back together – which it later was.

I had to have surgery to put pins in the bones.  I was screaming my head off because I was scared.  I had a basic idea of what they were going to do and was told that it wouldn’t hurt, but I still didn’t like the idea of it.  A person held the mask to my face as I lay in the operating room still crying.  I could hear the sound of the rushing gas and see several masked faces looking down at me among the bright lights.

(You know, that’s probably the scariest part for little kids in the hospital: the masks.  You can’t see faces.  You don’t know who these people are.  You don’t know if they’re smiling or sneering.  All you can see is eyes, and it removes the human element.)

I was bound and determined not to fall asleep and give them the satisfaction.  After a few minutes though, I thought, “There’s no way they’ll let me stay awake.  They’ll just keep pumping that gas, and I can’t keep crying forever.  The sooner I give up, the sooner it will be over.”  So I chose to stop crying, and closed my eyes.

Several weeks later, I had to go get the pins removed.  I think they didn’t use enough local anesthetic, because I remember extreme pain and calling out over and over, “I want to go to sleep again.”

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